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Photo: Courtesy of Gilcrease Museum

Early Tulsa: Cattle Drives

BY http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/9780738507811/Tulsa-Where-the-Streets-Were-Paved-With-Gold

Two well-known cattle trails ran past Tulsa during the cattle-driving heyday of the 19th century. One was the Arkansas River branch of the Shawnee Trail, which split from the major north-south trail at Fort Gibson and followed the north side of the Arkansas River along the waterway through Tulsa and into Kansas. The other was the Osage Trail that ran from Texas north to the Osage Agency at Pawhuska, north of Tulsa.

One of the things most feared by cowboys was being caught in a lightning storm while on a trail drive. At the first sign of a storm the cowboys got rid of anything metal - pistols, spurs, belts, everything - in the hope of not attracting lightning.

One such storm near Tulsa was described by one of the trailhands. The cowboys noticed the storm moving in from the southwest. When the storm struck, balls of fire danced between the horns of the cattle. Fortunately the herd did not stampede, but nine were killed by lightning, and one cowboy was struck, but survived. 

The painting in the picture is by Frederic Remington.


As featured in “Tulsa: Where the Streets Were Paved with Gold" written by Clyda R. Franks and published by Arcadia Publishing, best known for its iconic "Images of America" series, which chronicles the history of small towns and downtowns across the country.